Friday, 21 September 2012

Preview: Royals vs Giants - Game #01

The Victoria Royals (4-2) kick off their second campaign with back to back games against the Giants (1-3-1-1), beginning in Vancouver tonight.

The Royals are riding a 4 game preseason win streak, ending with a pair of wins against the Giants – who’ve dropped their last 4.

Victoria’s power play in the preseason was third best in the league, with Vancouver’s ranked 20th.

Last season, Victoria earned three wins against Vancouver, all coming on the Island.

In the post season, the Giants fell 4 games to 2 to Spokane in round one after finishing fourth in the Conference, while the seventh place Royals were swept by the Blazers.

And then the changes began, in June then GM / Head Coach Marc Habscheid took on a new executive role within GSL to assist them in developing other hockey related businesses.

In July Cam Hope was hired as General Manager.  Cam spent 7 years (2004 – 2011) working as part of the NHL’s New York Rangers management team, promoted from VP of Hockey Admininstration to Assistant General Manager in 2007.

Then came the hiring of the Royal’s new bench boss, 19 year NHL veteran Dave Lowry who has spent the past three seasons as an assistant coach with the Calgary Flames and has also coached the Calgary Hitmen.

The NHL draft saw Steven Hodges taken by the Florida Panthers in the 3rd round 84th overall, and Logan Nelson by the Buffalo Sabres in the fifth round, 133rd overall.

In the Euro draft, Victoria selected netminder Patrik Polivka 14th overall from the Czech Republic.

Victoria graduated Hayden Rintoul and Robin Soudek, Zach Habscheid went to the USHL, overagers Mike Forsyth and netminder Keith Hamilton were waived, Kade Pilton traded to Regina for rights to F Demico Hannoun (1995), and Zane Jones (94) to the Calgary Hitmen for Russian forward Alex Gogolev (92).

Other newcomers for the Royals include 16 year old rookie defenseman Joe Hicketts (their first round bantam pick in 2011), Jack Walker (younger brother of Ben), and 3rd rd pick in 2011, Ryan Gagnon.  Kolton Dixon is a 17 year old rookie on the backend. 

New faces up front include 16 yr old Colorado forward Brandon Fushimi, plus rookies Logan Fisher and Mitch Deacon.  In goal, Coleman Vollrath is the fresh face battling for a position.

Victoria is carrying a 26 player roster which includes 3 netminders, 9 defensemen and 14 forwards.

As for their opposition tonight, the Giants lose three of their top five point-getters from last season, including 40-goal men Brendan Gallagher (77pts) and Jordan Martinook (64pts) , who combined for nearly a third of the team’s goals.

Slovakian, Marek Tvrdon (74 pts) who was second in scoring last season will be relied upon to provide scoring, along with fellow 19 year old Cain Franson.

Wes Vannieuwenhuizen is the newly appointed Giants captain, as Vancouver sees five rearguards return from last season.  The Royals have yet to name theirs.

With last year’s starter Adam Morrison moving on, the Giants acquired 19-year-old Liam Liston from Lethbridge to assume the top job in net.

This week Vancouver acquired 3 new players without losing any bodies, acquiring forward Tristan Sieben from Edmonton, forward Tanner Moar and defenseman Stewart Coyle from Kelowna.

Catch all the play by play action on The Zone @ 91.3, or online at The pregame show begins at 7:15, with puck drop at 7:30 tonight.